Saturday, December 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


A knockout victory for encroachment mafia
Traffic lights project still a distant dream
By D.B.Chopra

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — What can be murkier than this? Traffic lights installed years ago remain inactive, not for want of a proper power connection, but because these did not suit the personal economics of a handful of shopkeepers near the number 3 division chowk. A classic case of limited vested interests getting the better of the larger public interest — about in which the encroachment mafia scored an outright knockout victory against the might of the government.

The chowk, with six major roads converging on the place, is one of the busiest commercial centres in the old city. While traffic to and from Railway Road, Gaushala Road, Chauri Sarak and the Islamia School Road passes through the square, two more roads — Benjamin Road and Samrala Road converge in front of the police station. In the absence of traffic lights, it is a free-for-all situation with no traffic cops regulating the traffic at any time of the day. Traffic jams in the evenings last for hours together, throwing normal life totally out of gear. The scene is particularly worse on Tuesdays when the temple is thronged by devotees.

The police station, from which the chowk derives its name, is housed in an ancient building which is on the verge of collapse. Keeping in view the law and order requirements of the old city, the location of the police station was just perfect. Along a part of the police station”s boundary wall adjacent to the entrance is an unauthorised three-wheeler stand where half a dozen of these vehicles can be seen lined one behind the other. Along the rear boundary wall of the police station are seated footpath vegetable sellers. It is alleged that these vegetable sellers pay Rs 500 each as “monthly” to the police station while other rehriwallas and footpath sellers around pay their respective “monthlies” to their “leader,” who in turn passes the collected amount onto the official concerned from the Tehbazari Department of the Municipal Corporation.

There are voices in the area against the encroachments but nobody prefers to be quoted for fear of possible reprisals. An old shopkeeper near the chowk, who runs a small business within the confines of his small shop, told me that after the traffic lights were installed nearly three years ago, those having their shops near the lights panicked over the possible loss of their business. If the lights were to be put to use, all encroachments made by shopkeepers and other footpath establishments would have had to be removed. Not only that. The exercise would have also ensured that the footpaths , constructed simultaneously, were left entirely to bear the burden of pedestrian traffic. But that was not to be.

To cut a long story short, the authorities concerned buckled under pressure in the end. And that was that. A great deal of planning and money that went into the installation of the traffic lights and the construction of the footpaths on the four major roads forming a square hence came to a naught.

Whom can we possibly blame for this? Certainly not the public. Responsibility entirely rests on the direct and indirect beneficiaries of the systematised chaos created by encroachments. The system has sustained itself because a large number of indirect beneficiaries are involved in the highly anti-public encroachment racket.

There are officers of the Municipal Corporation who maintain a liaison with “leaders” of encroachment gangs to ensure that all “monthlies” are paid regularly. The erring rehriwallas are warned to “pay up or else”. A councillor enjoys so much clout that if any one wants to set up a rehri at a particular spot in a particular area falling in his jurisdiction, his approval must be had at all costs. An official of the Tehbazari Department of the Municipal Corporation conceded that whenever a councillor phones in to complain against any rehriwalla in his area, they have to take action against the “offender”. And whenever a councillor wants a particular rehri to be totally “exonerated” during all “demolition drives”, the officials concerned have to oblige.

And then there are the beat cops who think it is their privilege to pick a couple of bananas or apples from any fruit vendor by the roadside. The beat cop is not the only one who tries to take an undue advantage. Whenever a senior officer is scheduled to visit the dilapidated police station or a function is slated necessitating the arranging of chairs and all that, the rehriwallas in the vicinity are assigned the job. Over the years, this has become the standard procedure. If there are no rehriwallas around to come to their help, how will they be able to arrange a few chairs? Poor cops.

All these indirect beneficiaries and the direct ones together constitute the unseen encroachment mafia holding public property to ransom all over the town.

A doctor who runs a clinic near the chowk suggested that apart from commissioning the traffic lights at the earliest , the authorities concerned must also widen the area by demolishing the old police station building which had been occupying so much of space. A new police station building could be built at an elevated level providing a spacious parking underneath. These measures would not only help remove the current traffic mess but also restore public faith in good governance.


CBI buckles under pressure from traders
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — Officials of the CBI and the Sale Tax Department were ultimately forced to reach a compromise under pressure of vociferous protests by traders.

The officials agreed to release the confiscated consignments of hosiery products worth approximately Rs 5 crore without any verification of the bills, material or even the authenticity of the addresses of the senders and receivers of the material. The compromise reached was: the traders will pay 25 per cent penalty on the ‘quoted’ price on the railway receipts (RR).

It is an open secret that the price of consignments is not quoted rightly on the RRs since the Railways has nothing to do with the price of the consignment. It takes freight charges on the basis of weight. Mr Naresh Kaura, president, Hosiery Mfgo Federation, and member, Ludhiana Sales Tax Excise Committee said: ‘‘The Railways generally writes cotton consignment on the woolen boxes. Since it pays only Rs 50 per kg in case of loss of material. secondly, with the open connivance of the Railway officials the weights of these boxes and bags is not weighted properly in most of the cases to save the freight charges.’’

It may be recalled that on the directions of the high court, a joint team of the CBI and ST officials had raided the railway premises and confiscated hosiery material that was to be exported. The traders blocked the railway traffic and threatened to observe a Ludhiana bandh and a Punjab bandh.

However, today the compromise was reached since the traders had declined to allow the checking of the material by saying it would delay the transport.

Though their representatives which included Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, Punjab Pradesh Vyapar Mandal, Mr Mahinder Aggarwal, and Mr Vinod Thapar, president, Knitwear Club, had given an undertaking to the officials that they would persuade the traders to pay the taxes.

However, a number of traders declined to accept the compromise. They were demanding that they should be asked to pay only lump sum tax and not 25 per cent as promised by the leadership. It is expected that the impasse may continue.

Mr Sarabjeet Singh, Additional Commissioner, ST, however, was optimistic about the compromise. He said: ‘‘It is for the first time that the ST officials have raided the premises of the railway station and imposed a penalty on the hosiery goods. The efforts made by the ST Department have resulted in 35 per cent increase in the ST Collection last year, and during the current year the revenue has increased by 42 per cent by now.’’

Mr N.S. Brar of the CBI was of the view: ‘‘We have succeeded to get substantial proof of the nexus between the traders, railway officials and the ST officials. In the coming days the cases may be filed against such persons.’’ He said such raids would continue in future too.

Mr Sarabjeet clarified that the Punjab ST Act has been already amended and now the ST officials could enter the railway premises which were not possible earlier. 


Pursuing power single-mindedly
By Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — The pursuit for power appears to be making leaders of different political parties come out of hibernation. Although more than a year the next assembly elections in the state, leaders of the two main political parties, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress, have already started moblising their support base. The campaign for the time being is restricted to the individual- level only.

The ruling SAD has already identified about 80 assembly segments, mostly in the rural areas, where it has launched target-oriented campaigning. Most of the officials, particularly the station-house officers and those related to the development work have been selectively posted in these segments.

In Ludhiana, the youth Akali Dal leader, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, has been made in charge of the Ludhiana rural assembly segment. The assembly segment is currently represented by Mr Hira Singh Ghabria, who has already switched his loyalties to the Tohra camp. Posing himself to be prospective SAD candidate for the Ludhiana rural constituency, Mr Dhillon has already started mobilising support. He has been regularly organising small corner meetings as a prelude to formal campaigning.

Mr Dhillon, whose proximity to the Chief Minister has been made clear to the local, administration, enjoys considerable influence to the extent of being a “deemed legislator” from the assembly segment. He has reportedly been assigned to monitor all development works in this assembly segment by the Chief Minister. Recently his supporters organised a public meeting on the outskirts of Ludhiana. It was attended among others by senior Akali leader and chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, Mr Mal Singh Ghuman and the acting Ludhiana district president of the SAD, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar.

The opposition parties, particularly Congress leaders, are sore over the importance given to Mr Dhillon by the district administration. Senior Congress leader and chairman of the Indian National Youth Congress, Urban Development Cell, Mr Pawan Dewan, says Mr Dhillon is acting as an “extra constitutional authority”. He revealed that most of the development works initiated by the administration in rural areas of Ludhiana are approved only after seeking his consultation.

On the other hand, the Congress is not lagging behind in its pursuit of moblising pubic support. Although the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee may continue to remain faction-ridden, but it has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the party in the state. The local leaders owing allegiance to different groups at the state-level have been regularly organising programmes in order to outsmart each other. Prominent among those include the PCC general secretary Mr Nahar Singh Gill, secretary Mr K.K. Bawa, Mr Pawan Dewan, district Youth Congress (Urban) president, Mr Parminder Mehta and of course, the DCC president, Mr Surinder Dabar.

Surprisingly Bhartiya Janta Party, one of the dominant parties in the city is yet to move out of its inertia. The last time any of the party leaders made noise was before the local MLA, Mr Satyapal Gosain, was elected Deputy Speaker of the Pubjab Legislative Assembly. Since then, Mr Gosain appears to be basking in his new avtar and party work seems to have been pushed to the back seat.


Man jumps from court roof after being convicted
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — Minutes after he was sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for smuggling poppy husk, Sachin, a migrant labourer today jumped from the first floor of the court of Mr B.S. Mehndiratta in the new district courts complex today evening either in his bid to run away or to commit suicide.

The convict received serious injuries in the process. His legs were broken and his head was wounded. Bleeding profusely the convict lay for more than half an hour on the ground floor before the police could arrange for an autorickshaw to take him to the Civil Hospital. Interestingly, the policemen were seen handcuffing the badly injured convict who was barely able to move.

Eyewitnesses told that the moment the Judge pronounced the orders, the convict broke free and jumped from the first floor location of the court. The attempt of police personnel to stop him from doing so proved futile.

The police personnel who did not wish to be quoted said the statement of the convict would only make it clear whether he tried to run away or commit suicide. According to them the convict was booked under the NDPS Act for smuggling poppy husk few years ago.


Octroi contractors clash, 5 hurt
From Our Correspondent

SAHNEWAL, Dec 8 — Five persons were injured in clashes between two octroi contractors. According to reports, trouble had been brewing between Tejwant Singh, an octroi contractor in Sahnewal and Sukhpal Singh, another octroi contractor. On the night of November 30, when Tejwant and his companions were on night duty at the octroi post, they tried to unsuccessfully stop the truck to check its octroi pass.

The truck was driven by Sukhpal Singh and his companions. Sukhpal allegedly used abusive language and challenged the other party. When Tejwant and his co-workers tried to overtake the truck in their Gypsy, the truck driver intentionally hit their car as a result of which Tejwant and his friends got injured seriously.

Tejwant was hospitalised for five days and after being discharged, he came to the Sahnewal police station and lodged a complaint against the accused. A case has been registered but no arrests have been made.


A teacher rediscovers himself
By N.S. Tasneem

TO be associated with the educational institutions of Ludhiana in one form or the other is a rare privilege. I was a lecturer in the Department of English in the local Government College. Teaching postgraduate classes was a great experience. After superannuation, I was offered the post of Professor Emeritus at GHG Khalsa College, Gurusar Sadhar, where I served for five years. I could not help visiting educational institutions on one pretext or the other, even afterwards.

Guru nanak Khalsa College for Women (Gujjarkhan Campus) kept me active in academic circles inviting me to college functions. I was considered fit to be honoured as a writer by Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, at present Governor of Uttaranchal pradesh. Shortly afterwards, Government College for Women (GCW) arranged a ‘Meet the Author’ programme in which I traced my growth from a lecturer in English to a novelist in Punjabi.

In my frequent visits to Ramgarhia College for Girls (Miller Ganj) I have always felt that it is my own college.

Principal Harmit Kaur never misses an opportunity to remind me that she was my student in the early 60s. But one evening, shortly after my winning the Sahitya Akademi Award, she treated me as a stranger who must be garlanded profusely and praised immensely. Such gestures make me conscious that a teacher should continue to add a feather or two to his cap so as to remain at the same pedestal.

Unexpectedly, I received a call from the Principal of Khalsa College for Women (Civil Lines) last year to address the postgraduate students of Punjabi. By that time, I had donned the mantle of a Punjabi scholar, whereas, I had nothing more to show than a few works of fiction. In fact, I have been trying, during the last decade, to erase my image of a professor of English. I now take pride in saying that I am a Punjabi novelist. It is another matter that the Punjabi World still entertains reservations about my being a member of their tribe.

My sagging spirits received a fillip. When Principal Kuldip Singh of GGN Khalsa College invited me to deliver two extension lectures to their newly started MA English class. I went there like a person who was finding it difficult to rediscover his path. Once there, I found the atmosphere very congenial, and the attention that the Principal and Dr. T.S. Anand, Coordinator of the Postgraduate Department of English, bestowed on me was flattering.

During the extension lectures delivered over two days, I realised to my pleasant surprise that I had not retired at all. The same old eager faces, the same old bad voice of mine and the same old feeling of my being on top of the world made me feel that occasionally time stands still. The memory of my lectures delivered to this class, so well-disciplined and so well-groomed, will not easily fade from my mind.

Incidentally, it helped me shed 10 years of my biblical age of three score and ten and I forgot to pick them up on my way back.


Gold does not glitter for them
By Minna Zutshi

Dec 8 — Gold, glitter and glamour — the words seem almost inseparable. But there is a flipside to the gold story, a side that is bereft of glitz and glamour. Just take a peep into the life of the gold collectors who earn their livelihood by collecting gold from the drains.

"Our day begins early in the morning. We have to start our work, before the sun is up. Once the market becomes busy, it becomes virtually impossible to continue with our work. At night, we have to work in the silence of deserted streets," says a young gold collector, who lives in the vicinity of Sarafa Bazar.

The world of the gold collectors is full of uncertainties. Whether they will get their share of gold is a matter of chance. Sometimes, the person who comes early has to return empty-handed while the latecomers land up with a 'prize catch'.

Rummaging through the dirty drains is not an easy job. As every kind of refuse finds its way into the drains, the task of gold sifting becomes onerous. "Sometimes, when I put my hands into water frothing with filth, I feel like nauseating. But such feelings are just fleeting. Gold collecting has been my source of livelihood for the past 20 years,” says Ramdin, a gold collector.

The gold diggers frequently suffer from skin disorders. Chafed and broken skin is the most common ailment. As the gold diggers use nitric acid and mercury to isolate gold from grime, their skin often shows symptoms of mercury poisoning. But they dismiss it as a professional hazard.

During winter, the going gets tough. Sometimes, glass shards and nails pierce their skin and the cold weather accentuates their pain. Tetanus injection after every six months is mandatory for them.

An interesting question that arises is how gold finds its way into the drains. Bits of gold gets stuck up in the dress and hair of the artisans and workers. When they dust off their clothes, the gold bits flake off into the drains.

Gold collecting is becoming less lucrative day by day as people are showing increasing preference for designer jewellery. Most of the designer jewellery comes from places like Mumbai, Delhi and Nagpur. The number of artisans who do gold work is dwindling.

But for the gold collectors, especially for those who have been engaged in this work for years together, not many options are open. An aged gold collector sums it up succinctly, "For me, hardly any avenues are open. I will not like my children to take up this work."


A club that needs no introduction
By Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — Sutlej Club, Ludhiana, hardly needs any introduction in view of its 56 years old established credentials. The club was started as an officers’ club during the British with the Deputy Commissioner as its ex-officio president.

The club with its beautiful building in Rakh Bagh is spread over a spacious five acre land with lush green lawns. More than 2600 members have been associated with the club.

The club was first established in its old building at Club Road, later the land was given to Guru Nanak Stadium and in lieu of that land, the district administration gave five acre land in which the club management built a new building.

The club is affiliated with 46 prominent and reputed clubs like — Bombay Presidency Radian Club Mumbai, Delhi Cricket Association, Roshanara Club, Chlemsford Club, New Delhi, Century Club, Bangalore, Yashwant Club, Indore, Maharaja Bagh Club Nagpur and other reputed clubs all over the country and five clubs abroad. The affiliated club members can avail the club facilities four times in a month.

All units of the club are fully air conditioned and equipped with modern gadgets like dining hall, two banquet halls, coffee shop, cards room, bridge room, a fully decorated family lounge, bar room., sports — squash, badminton hall, health club with sauna bath, jacuzzi, chilled water plant, massage room and a separate exercise wing with modern exercise equipments, tennis courts billiard room, table tennis room and a swimming pool.

The club has decided that the swimming pool will be made an all weather pool and the Badminton courts will be of international standard with synthetic flooring. The club management has undertaken the construction of bowling alley, children’s recreation centre, car parking I and library at estimated cost of Rs 2.5 crore. The general body meeting of the club also decided to establish Sutlej Golf Club in 100 acres of land.

The club also undertakes philanthropist activities. The management of the club has donated Rs 5 lakh for providing fans, mats and toilets in primary schools.

The club has been regularly celebrating different festivals like Valentines’ Day, Friendship Day, baisakhi, teej, karva chauth, Divali, Children’s Day and New Year Eve.


Postal services remain paralysed on fourth day
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — Postal services remain paralysed for the fourth consecutive day here today due to the nationwide strike by postal employees to press their demands, including better pay scale and pensionary benefits.

While the authorities claimed that not much inconvenience was caused to the public due to the strike as special counters for depositing of telephone bills, acceptance of parcels and speed post letters were set up, the leaders of the employees claimed that the strike was total as the depositing of bills was not part of postal services. Students and industrialists were hit by the strike. Letters and parcels were piling up at the local railway station.

The strike has come as a blessing for courier service agencies in the city. According to an estimate, the business of private courier agencies has shot up by 30 per cent.

The striking employees staged a rally and dharna outside the head post office for the fourth day. Addressing the workers, Mr C.L.Verma, divisional secretary of the All-India Postal Employees Union Class III said the strike would continue till the government accepted their demands.

He said the Administration was claiming that the strike was more than 90 per cent effective. He added that all work like sale of stamps, registration and booking of articles or money orders was not being transacted. He claimed that national political parties had supported the strike.

Chaos prevailed in post offices and banks where counters for depositing of telephone bills were erected. Today being the last day, there was a huge rush of telephone subscribers at these places.


Alternative crops, dairy farming stressed upon
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — A three-day ‘Indo-European workshop on dairy farming — present status and future prospects concluded here today. Presiding over the function, Dr. K.S. Aulakh, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, PAU, said, “There is no doubt that Punjab has made revolutionary achievements in agriculture. It is contributing about 60 per cent wheat and 40 per cent rice to the central pool. But rice-wheat rotation has created many problems for the state. The health of our soil has deteriorated and we are facing shortage of water.”

He further stated that excessive use of chemicals was not only increasing production cost, but also adding to environment pollution. Farmers had also started facing the problem of marketing of wheat and rice. In order to overcome these problems, it was estimated that at least 20 per cent of the area under cultivation had to be shifted from rice-wheat rotation to other alternative crops and occupations.

Majority of the farmers in the state were small farmers. Being a labour intensive activity, dairy farming could provide employment opportunities. The rural youth could be motivated to adopt dairy farming. But that could only be possible if dairy farming was modernised and made an attractive option.

The workshop was organised under EU-India Cross Cultural Innovation Network. Representatives from Denmark, Italy and England, progressive dairy farmers, university experts and representatives of Milkfed, Dairy Development Board and State Animal Husbandry Department participated.

Addressing the participants, Dr Karamjit Singh Gill from the University of Brighton, UK, disclosed that this project was a collaborative project to develop an innovation network between European and Indian universities and research institutes and was funded by the EU-India Cross Cultural Economic Programme. The project focused on value-added applications of university research into social and economic exchange, regional models of innovation and entrepreneurship, and their transferability between regions and cultures.

Under this project, emphasis was being given to entrepreneurial and information technology. Under information technology, a PG diploma course was started from this year in collaboration with the University of Brighton. The British Council had also agreed to support this course. Experts and teaching material would be sent from Europe and teachers from India would go there for training. Two teachers from each college had been trained in information technology. They were developing multimedia teaching modules in addition to providing training to other teachers.

Dr Lauge Rasmussen from Technical University, Denmark, disclosed that 80 per cent of the milk was processed by the cooperatives. Denmark exported 80 per cent of its milk produce to various countries after processing. Mr Francisco Garibaldo from Italy talked on the small farmers' unions.

Dr H.S. Sekhon, Dean, College of Agricultural Engineering, welcomed the participants. Dr Ranjit Singh, Project Coordinator, proposed the vote of thanks.


10-year-old wins Maruti 800
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — Master Akshay from Sarani district in Madhaya Pradesh was on cloud nine when the keys of a Maruti 800 were handed over to him by Mr K.K. Kapila, Income Tax Commissioner, Ludhiana. This young 10-year-old is the winner of Kaun Banega Hero Contest, which was run by world’s largest cycle manufacturing company, Hero Cycles Limited, in September.

The contest was a major marketing initiative taken by the company and was part of a media campaign coinciding with the Hero Dealers’ Conference in Bangkok, where 1,000 dealers from the Hero family got together for a three-day trip. According to company officials, the contest generated an overwhelming response from people from all parts of the country and a total of 3,74,678 entries were received. Out of these entries a maximum of 95,460 entries were received from the Central Zone, 82,378 from the Eastern zone, 75,697 from the North Zone, 65,130 from the West Zone and 56,004 from the South Zone.

After the shortlisting of all entries had been done a panel of three judges, eminent people from their respective fields, was formed to select a winner on the basis of best slogan. These three judges — Dr M.A. Zahir, Dean Faculty of Basic Sciences, Punjab Agricultural University, an eminent personality in the field of Business Management Education, Dr Kewal Dheer, an eminent writer and winner of various national and international awards, alongwith Mr Kamal, Faculty of Basic Sciences, Punjab Agricultural University, had many brainstorming sessions and thus came out with the list of winners.

While congratulating the winners, Mr. O.P. Munjal said that the most heartening aspect of this contest was the awareness about Hero Cycles. He said, “this kind of overwhelming response has encouraged us to think that with such a great brand equity, Indian companies would be able to withstand the pressures of WTO and compete freely in the world market”.

He also reminisced about the days when they had started the enterprise to its growth to its current revenue of Rs 4,500 crore. He said that it was possible because “We have always been a customer-focused company and we have always given value- for-money products. We have also been branching out to new avenues of business and hence the diversification into e-commerce and health insurance” .

Mr. K.K. Kapila, while speaking on the occasion congratulated the winners and the management of Hero for holding the contest.

Ms Swati Laghate, from Indore, the winner of second prize, a state-of-the-art Hero Power Bike was also present at the function.


Scientists suggest ways to check rat menace
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — Scientists at Punjab Agricultural University here have suggested certain non-lethal, more eco-friendly and less harsh methods to check and curb the population of rats.

The scientists suggested that to check the menace of rats conventional methods, such as laying traps, using non-lethal repellents, would have to be employed increasingly. “We shall have to ensure the use of only those chemicals which destroy rats only and not any other friendly birds and animals”, the scientists feel. In addition, they suggested, chemicals which might castrate rats would have to be relied upon extensively. It is also important to educate farmers about the negative and destructive role of rats as also of certain species of birds.

They pointed out, while over the years the man may have evolved numerous methods to check the threats of wild animals, but the problem posed by rats is supposed to be a serious one to the civilisation, as the rats consumed as much food as consumed by people. With the passage of time the population of rats had increased enormously.

The problem of rats, according to these scientists, had assumes serious proportions as more and more area of land was brought under cultivation. Although for getting rid of, the harmful pests, farmers had started using chemical substances on a large scale, with the passage of time these insects and pests had developed immunity against the chemicals and hence had become ineffective, they pointed out.

Welcoming the traditional methods of laying traps and water pitchers to control rats, they said, it helps in maintaining the ecological balance. Even poisonous pesticides too had been used extensively to kill them. But since rats had developed immunity to poisons, their population instead of coming down had increased manifold. The use of pesticides had in many cases proved counter-productive. Instead of killing rats, pesticides had often killed friendly birds and animals. The decreasing population of such birds and animals prompted the centre to promulgate Wildlife Act in 1972 which imposed a complete ban on killing or trapping wild animals. The Act was considered to be necessary for the maintenance of ecological balance. 


Bank VRS receives mixed response
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — The Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) has received mixed response from bank employees. While some employees are in favour of the scheme, others have been opposing it vociferously. Talking to The Tribune, some of the bank employees revealed the merits and demerits of the scheme.

According to Mr S.K. Malhotra, chief manager of Allahabad Bank, VRS has received a good response from all over and a sufficient number of people have opted for this scheme. It will help in pruning down the number of employees and is a boon for the private banks. The private bank sector is absorbing the employees retiring under VRS for providing training to their staff. The loss of talent in nationalised banks will, therefore, be a gain for the private sector at a low price. It will be tough, nevertheless, for the bank itself to relieve senior officials and find replacements.

Mr Anil Anand, manager, UCO Bank, opines, that this scheme is only suitable for those employees who are on the verge of retirement. “It is not viable for employees like me to opt for this scheme, who have many years of service left. This scheme has been launched to increase the amount of business per employee and to rationalise the number of employees in the bank. Disguised employment in the bank will be wiped out with the help of this scheme”.

In the opinion of Ms Sunita Gupta, “no doubt this is a lucrative offer, but I don’t prefer this scheme. Getting retired so soon means wasting time sitting idle. The board has launched this scheme for centralisation and contractualisation of banks. This scheme will be beneficial for those who have few years of service left or who have some place to invest the money”.

Mr V.K. Sood feels VRS is a camouflage. This scheme will amount to mass retrenchment of staff by paying them half of the salary of the remaining years of service. No recruitment will be carried out against the vacancies created by retrenchment, thus leading to educated unemployment. In lieu of payment, people may not get lucrative benefits like HRA, LFC, transport allowance, medical aid, consumer loans, housing loan and many other benefits from future wage revision. Many banks are weighing internal and external funding options for funding its VRS option. He added that some of the banks are raising loans to give the VRS amount to its employees. The paltry lumpsum, which will be given to employees will be spent in a few years with no hope of getting more.

Mr Paramjit Singh Bedi opines that due to computerisation, there is surplus manpower in every branch. “Since only one year of my service is left I am thinking of opting for this scheme. This scheme is to cut down the costs of banks. This scheme has been suggested by WTO to decrease the number of employees.

According to Ms Veena Sachdeva, VRS means that instead of feeding others, one gets dependent. Routine life will be affected hampered. By retiring earlier social status goes down. The lumpsum amount will be easily spent on the ever rising demands of the household. The money will be paid in two instalments, with one part at the time of retirement and one after five years when the value of money will depreciate.


Telephone lines disrupted again
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — The telephone lines of Mata Rani Exchange were again disrupted for more than three hours today, causing much inconvenience to residents, traders and employees of the various offices located in the area.

The 74 lines got disrupted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the only message heard on the phone was “only emergency services available”. A similar problem had been occurring in the exchange for short intervals for the past few days.

While giving reasons for the disruption of services, Mr Srivastva, General Manager, Telecom, said that there was a snag in the air conditioners in the exchange, due to which the optical fibres got heated, causing technical faults. He said that he had told the area manager to ensure that no such fault occurred again.


Annual gurmat samagam
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — The three-day annual gurmat samagam at Gurdwara Nanaksar, Samrala Chowk, started here today with the commencing of ‘21 paaths of Guru Granth Sahib Ji’ .

The bhog ceremony of the paaths will be held on December 10 (Sunday) at 10 am, after which, a deewan will be held and langars distributed. A large number of renowned saints and hymn singers will participate in the deewan.

Amrit Sanchar will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m. under the leadership of the Panj Pyaras.

Among the saints, will grace the occasion are Sant Baba Sarabjot Singh Ji Bedi, Sant Baba Hari Singh Ji, Bhai Jasbir Singh Ji and Sant Baba Thakar Singh Ji.

Kirtan jathas reaching on December 10 include those led by Bhai Ravinder Singh Ji, Hazoori Raagi, (Amritsar) Bhai Kirpal Singh Ji (Amritsar), Bhai Jasbir Singh Joshi (Khannewale), Bhai Jasbir Singh Ji (Patiala) and Bhai Devinder Singh Sodhi (Ludhiana).


YC workers hold protest rally
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — Youth Congress workers, under the leadership of Mr Komal Khanna, general secretary , Punjab Youth Congress , held a protest rally outside the main office of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Ferozpore Road. They were protesting against the ‘anti - consumer policies’ of the Board. The workers raised slogans against the Punjab Government and the Board. Later, a memorandum was submitted to the authorities concerned. The demands included abolition of levy imposed on the power tariff and abolition of corruption in the department. 


Hosiery items at throwaway prices
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 6 — For those who want good hosiery items cheap, Ghanta Ghar Chowk provides ample choice at throwaway prices. Leftover stocks of hosiery items which cannot be sent as part of export orders or fail to make it to big departmental stores land up here.

Mr Manjit Singh, partner in a shop here, claims that this market is popular as customers can buy quality products here at almost one-fourth of the price. He says he can afford to sell hosiery items cheap because they pick up stocks in bulk.

The hosiery manufacturing units sell their excess stock in bulk to such traders, who dispose of these garments at little profit. There is no contract system and no bargaining, says Mr Jagjit Singh Sarpanch, owner of a shop.

Ms Moni Arora comes from Ferozepore to buy winter wear. Mr Surinder Nayyar comes from Yamunanagar to purchase hosiery goods every year. The market is emerging as an alternative to Chaura Bazar for lower and middle income groups.


Book released
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — A short-story book, Bindu Te Daire, written by Ms Bachint Kaur, was released here today at the Punjabi Bhavan by Ms Harmeet Kaur, principal. Ramgarhia Girls College.


Missing driver case: complainants booked
By Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 8 — An eight-year-old case of a missing truck driver of Haibowal colony here today took a curious turn when the police registered a case against his sister and brother-in-law on the allegations levelled by the wife of the driver that the two were involved in the disappearance of her husband.

Interestingly, only early this week the police had registered a case against the wife Gurmeet Kaur, her parents and two other relatives on the complaint of Mr Hari Singh, father of the missing driver. But now the police has registered a case on the complaint of the wife.

While the police apparently remains at a loss about the actual reasons behind the disappearance of the truck driver, its action of registering two cases on simultaneous complaints of the relatives against each other has further confused the case. All this while the police has not been able to trace the missing driver.

According to the case history, Gurpal Singh, the truck driver, had gone to Guwahati in 1992 and has not returned yet. The police had after a few months registered a case of missing person but now it has booked the driver’s wife and her relatives for being involved in the case. The father of the driver, Mr Hari Singh, had given a statement to the police that his son had gone away from the house after some conflict with his wife. He had also alleged the involvement of the family members of his son’s wife in the case.

However, the wife Gurmeet Kaur in a complaint to the police alleged today that she was being harassed for dowry by her husband and his parents. She said it was because of them that her husband had gone away from their house eight years ago. She said she was being harassed for dowry but when she did not succumb to the pressure a conspiracy to separate her from her husband was hatched.

The Haibowal police seemingly perplexed at the allegations and the counter-allegations had registered a case of kidnapping and harassment against the two parties and booked about seven persons belonging to both the groups. While SHO Haibowal police station was not available for comments, police sources said the cases had been registered to carry out a thorough investigation into the allegations. No arrest has, however, been made.


One booked for embezzlement
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Dec 8 — The police has registered a case against Harinder Singh, a former secretary of the Cooperative House Building Society, Machhi-wara, for embezzlement of funds of the society.

The SSP Khanna, Mr R. Dhoke, said in a press release, here today that the assistant registrar, Cooperative Society, Samrala, had complained to the police that when Harinder Singh was the secretary of the society, he had embezzled Rs 1,09,430 through false entries.

On the basis of the complaint, a case under Sections 420 and 406 of the IPC has been registered against Harinder Singh at Machhiwara police station.


One held with liquor
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Dec 8 — The Payal police has arrested one person with ten bottles of illicit liquor.

According to the police, Kashmira Singh, of Shahpur village was arrested by the police during patrolling, yesterday. A case has been registered against him under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act.


Lovers commit suicide
From Our Correspondent

FATEHGARH SAHIB, Dec 8 — The young lovers committed suicide by jumping before a train at Talwara village, 7 km from here, yesterday.

According to Mr Tejinder Singh, ASI GRP two dead bodies were found lying on the rail track. He said the police had, registered a case under Section 174 of the Cr. PC.


Shopkeepers demand review of rates
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Dec 8 — A delegation of local shopkeepers met the Local Government Minister of Punjab, Mr Balram Dass Tandon, to review the rates of Municipal Council (MC) shops that are to be sold to tenants. They also demanded the withdrawal of notices sent by MC regarding the new rent deed.

The President of Railway Road Shopkeepers’ Association, Mr Diwan Chand Vij, said in a meeting held yesterday at Shivpuri Mandir, that Mr Tandon had ordered the Director, Local Government Punjab, to enquire into the matter and to report within 15 days.

It may be mentioned here that MC had decided to sell its shops in the city at 40 per cent of rates fixed by MC if they wanted shops without roof and 50 per cent if they wanted shops with roof. A rate of Rs 3000 per square foot and Rs 3500 per square foot has been fixed for shops situated at the railway road.

The shopkeepers alleged that rates fixed by the MC were exhorbitant. Mr Vij claimed that the rate fixed for the railway road in revenue record by the District Collector was Rs 166 per square foot.

It may be mentioned here that last year the Improvement Trust, Khanna, had acquired a piece of land situated at the same road at a rate of Rs 21 per square foot. Mr Vij said that if developmental charges were added then the rate would not exceed Rs 100 per square foot.

Mr Vij threatened that if the MC did not withdraw the notice, the shopkeepers would raise their voice against it.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |